The Ape and the Sushi Master

The Ape and the Sushi Master

Cultural Reflections by A Primatologist

Book - 2001
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Baker & Taylor
An exploration of culture and social transmission corrects the assumption that humans are the only form of intelligent life to have progressed from the natural to the cultural.

Perseus Publishing
What if apes had their own culture rather than one their human observers imposed on them? What if they reacted to situations with behavior learned through observation of their elders (culture) rather than with pure genetically coded instinct (nature)? Contemplating such a possibility is bound to shake centuries-old cultural convictions. In answering these questions, The Ape and the Sushi Master, by the eminent primatologist Frans de Waal, corrects our arrogant assumption that humans are the only form of intelligent life to have made the leap from the natural to the cultural domain. The book's title derives from an analogy de Waal draws between the way behavior is transmitted in ape society and the way sushi-making skills are passed down from sushi master to apprentice. Like the apprentice, young apes watch their group mates at close range, absorbing the methods and lessons of each of their elders' actions. Responses long thought to be instinctive are actually learned behavior, de Waal argues, and constitute ape culture. A delightful, partly autobiographical mix of anecdotes, rigorous research, and fascinating speculation, The Ape and the Sushi Master challenges our most basic assumptions about who we are and how we differ from other animals. Apes are holding a new mirror up to us in which they are not human caricatures but members of our extended family with their own resourcefulness and dignity. For over a century, UFO spotters have told us that we are not alone. In The Ape and the Sushi Master, Frans de Waal makes the equally startling claim that, biologically speaking, we never were.

Arguing that apes have created their own distinctive culture, an eminent primatologist challenges our most basic assumptions about who we are and how we differ from other animals


Book News
Waal (primate behavior, Emory U.) blends autobiographical stories, research findings, and speculation relating to the life of apes. Suggesting that apes can learn culture and are not confined to genetic instinct, he explores the details of social transmission. He also examines how human culture affects the way we look at other animals. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Baker
& Taylor

A distinguished primatologist challenges humankind's fundamental beliefs about who we are and how we differ from other animals as he argues that apes possess their own unique culture in which young apes learn new behaviors from the lessons of their elders. 30,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Basic Books, c2001
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780465041756
0465041752
Branch Call Number: 156 WAA
Characteristics: viii, 433 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., music ; 22 cm

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